As fears of a possible direct conflict between Russia and the United States mounted after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Moscow to “get ready” for missiles that “will be coming” at Syria in a series of tweets, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said in an interview Wednesday morning that a clash between the two nuclear powers in Syria could have devastating consequences across the Middle East.”Just one spark may set the entire region on fire and open the door for the conflict,” Canikli said in an interview on 24TV, a Turkish news broadcast.
“If an attack occurs against the forces [in Syria] backed by Russia or there is an attack by the U.S.-supported forces, Russia won’t be able to stay away, otherwise it will lose its influence. So, serious clashes may start,” Canikli added, urging the U.S., Russian, and Syrian governments to “act with restraint.”
The Turkish defense minister’s stark warning comes on the heels of several early morning tweets by Trump that intensified concerns that the U.S. is preparing to launch a military attack on Syria, risking a direct confrontation with Russian forces stationed in the country.
In an interview Tuesday night ahead of Trump’s series of tweets—which insisted that poor relations between Russia and the U.S. are largely due to special counsel Robert Mueller’s collusion probe—Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin warned that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria will be “downed” along with “the sources from which the missiles were fired.”